Gateway Worship saw walls come down in Lima, Peru.
This summer, I found myself in a bullfighting arena in Lima, Peru. Well, it used to be a bull fighting arena. Coliseo Amauta is the largest multi-use indoor arena in Peru, and it has been host to circuses, basketball and volleyball world championships, Miss Universe 1982, and a variety of other events. Who would’ve thought years ago that such a facility would be used to gather thousands of worshippers?
To give you a little background, Gateway Worship released our latest album, Walls, in October 2015. It was amazing to be a part of that project, and I would never have dreamed that within a year, Gateway Worship would be in Peru doing a live recording of the same songs in Spanish for a release in Latin America. Over 15,000 people attended the night of worship, and hearing that many voices together for a united purpose is breathtaking in and of itself. But for the collective sound to be the familiar melodies we sing every weekend at church? Now that’s overwhelming.
The worship leaders featured on Murallas (the Spanish language release of Walls) are some of the most well-known Christian artists in Latin America. They’re all friends of the Gateway Church family, with many of them calling Gateway their home, including Coalo Zamorano, Christine D’Clario, Lilly Goodman, Julissa, Luis Marrero, and Jacobo Ramos.
At one point during the night, my dad (the white-haired, super-amazing worship leader, Tim Sheppard) and Coalo knelt side by side, leading “We Bow Low,” switching back and forth between English and Spanish. As I played the piano at the end of the song, I could hear a faint echo of the chorus: “Santo, Santo, Santo...” (“Holy, Holy, Holy...”). The congregation didn’t want the song to end! For about 10 minutes, they spontaneously sang the chorus, and then their sound grew louder and louder. The band finally joined in, building and exploding as the crowd led in worship. It felt as though heaven had come to earth.
After all, the ultimate objective of leading worship is to connect with God and connect with people, and then help bring the two parties together. Once that connection is established, the worship leaders might as well be invisible. It’s not about platform, performance, lights, or sound—it’s about people experiencing God in the greatest way possible.
That heavenly moment when the crowd led themselves in worship summed up the night and encapsulated the recording project for me. Nations came together, united as one, to sing the words the angels never stop singing. They’re the words we’ll sing for eternity!
Pastor Thomas Miller often refers to Psalm 133. This passage was a key focus on our trip and for the weeks and months of preparation leading up to the project:
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forevermore” (Psalm 133:1–3).
Over the years, traveling with Gateway Worship has drawn me out of the day-to-day routine and given me a big-picture perspective. This live-recording night was one of those big picture moments, and we’ll never know the eternal implications on this side of heaven. I am humbly grateful to serve with a body of believers making an impact for the kingdom of God!